Put vaccines on your back-to-school checklist

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

Vaccines are important for preventing disease in people of all ages – but especially for school-age children.

Kim Giuliano, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said children typically receive two shots that protect against eight diseases between the ages of four and six, but older children need vaccines too.

“The next time the children receive routine vaccinations is around age 11 or 12, and then again between the ages of 16 and 18,” she said.

The complete vaccine schedule is designed to protect children from 16 potentially harmful diseases.

From birth to age six it’s recommended children receive vaccines to prevent 14 diseases, and everyone six months and older should receive a yearly flu shot.

In addition to the flu shot, it’s recommended that pre-teens received the HPV vaccine, a meningitis vaccine, and a Tdap vaccine – which protects from tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Meanwhile, older teens who are heading off to college will want to make sure they’re protected too.

“There are some vaccines we encourage for college students as well, specifically the meningitis vaccine,” said Dr. Giuliano. “Meningitis can spread very easily when people live in close quarters and college dormitories are one of them.”

If parents aren’t sure whether their child is up to date on vaccinations, or if a child has missed shots, Dr. Giuliano recommends talking to their pediatrician about getting back on track.